I've designed an image in illustrator which is made up of lots of vector objects (as drawn with the pen tool), and now I want to manipulate my image in photoshop . I want to be able to edit anchor points as if I had created them in photoshop, and then create derive pretty rastor images at a later stage. I can import my work as a smart object, but if I try to edit it, photoshop opens illustrator and I'm back to square one! I've attempted turning my file into compound images, but there are far too many small objects to do it in this lifetime so I need an alternative. Thanks.


4 Answers 4


There is no direct way to move all the paths of an Illustrator file to editable paths in Photoshop witha few easy commands. The best you can do is one path at a time.

  • You can copy from Illustrator, then Paste in Photoshop as a shape layer. But you'll have to do that for each and every path of your Illustrator file, then reposition all the paths in Photoshop.

  • You can export your Illustrator file to a PSD to retain layers. But this will not retain editable vector paths.

  • You can "Place" the Illustrator file in Photoshop, but (as you pointed out) you place as a smart object which does not allow object-level editing within Photoshop.

The question is, why would you even want to? Vectors are sharp, crisp and clean. Nothing you do with Photoshop will result in true vector files. And if you want to apply a buch of raster painting, you may as well rasterize the entire thing.

  • 5
    One reason to use vectors in Photoshop is because the are editable. Even though the end results are often rastered, the vector part of Photoshop is still useful! Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 16:02
  • I never stated Photoshop's vector tools were not useful. The question asks about moving AI objects to PS and retain editability. That's what I answered. Photoshop does lack some vector capabilities, regardless of how much a user may want to believe it's just as good as a real vector app such as Illustrator.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 23:38
  • Regarding your second bullet point, well, there is a way to retain vector shapes. Select the shape in Illustrator, and under Pathfinder dialog options (top right corner) click "Make Compound Shape". Now export to PSD and you get an editable vector shape in PS.
    – otinanai
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 15:37
  • You simply can't make a compound shape of all things for every file. That will often alter the artwork.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 17:51

Well AI is a Vector Art based program and PS is a image editing software. So you can't get a detailed import of all objects. If you want to do edits use AI but if you want to do Photo Edits (Saturtation, Curves, FX, Etc.) use PS, which will not require a Vector quality PSD Export. instruction shown below.

  1. Creat a new PS Document
  2. Click File
  3. Select Place
  4. Locate your AI Document (Note: Make sure under enable All Readable Documents is selected)
  5. Click Place
  6. Chose PDF options and Place


  1. Open AI Document
  2. Select File
  3. Click Export
  4. Choose File location
  5. Change the Format to Photoshop (psd)
  6. (Optional) Select Use Artboards
  7. Click Export
  8. Go to Photoshop
  9. Click File
  10. Click Open
  11. Locate exported PSD File from Step 7
  12. Click Open

This should import each Layer as a folder, Text as Text, and everything else as a Photoshop Object

Note: Effects will be converted to an Photoshop Object too. Also for best export do not group any objects, create compound paths, etc.


First of all Photoshop is not only an image editing software, you can create 100% vector files in Photoshop with the last versions, I also think that adobe should really work on an easier way to import/export files from AI to PS especially since they added the vector feature in PS.

Anyway the easiest way I found was opening the file in Illustrator and then just select the vector shape, copy and paste it in Photoshop as a Shape Layer (you can also paste it as a rasterized layer and other options). Then you have a 100% editable vector shape in Photoshop. Good luck!

  • yes but photoshop has one fixed resolution while illustrator has multi resolutions so it wouldnt work all that well.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 14:27

you can import them using the place or export methods listed above. even though it will import as smart objects, if you double click on them, they will open back up in a.i. so you can adjust them as needed. in photoshop you can adjust size, transform, and add smart filters and still keep original in tact.


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